Former Bolles QB Mac Jones waits and watches, then gets picked by the New England Patriots
Every year on the first day of the NFL draft, the TV partners seem to fixate on picking on one player who drops from a possible top-five spot well into the middle or even late first round.
Former Bolles School and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones of Jacksonville was that guy on Thursday.
But he finally got the call, from the NFL’s winningest franchise of this century at the 15th pick of the first round, and all seemed right with his world.
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“It’s not where you get picked,” he said on the stage with ESPN shortly after the obligatory hug from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “It’s what you do with the opportunity.”
Later, during New England's post-draft news conference, Jones said he was more than happy at the chain of circumstances that had him projected to land on one side of the country and wind up on the other.
"Secretly, I wanted to go to the Patriots all along," Jones said. "I'm really happy that happened. I can't wait to play for the greatest franchise in NFL history."
It's also worth noting that Belichick attended the pro day of one quarterback prospect: Jones.
Jones, who led Alabama to the 2020 national championship, won’t face a daunting depth chart. In addition to Stidham, who has attempted only 48 NFL passes with a rating of 46.4, Jones will be competing against an aging Cam Newton and Jake Dolegala from Central Connecticut State, an undrafted free agent.
Belichick also told the Patriots media that Jones isn't being handed the starting job.
“Cam’s our quarterback,” Belichick said. “Whatever time Jarrett or Mac are ready to challenge him and compete, we’ll see how that goes. Right now, for Mac, he’s got a lot of learning in front of him, and I know he’s very anxious to get going with it and get started.”
Belichick was asked how long Newton will be the team’s starter.
“I don’t know. Somebody will have to play better than he does,” he said.
Jones continues his journey of playing for some of the most successful coaches at every level of football. He played for Corky Rogers at Bolles, who won 10 Florida state championships, for Nick Saban at Alabama, who has won college seven national championships and now for Belichick, who has won six Super Bowls.
Jones was mocked as high as No. 3 to San Francisco but the 49ers decided on Trey Lance of North Dakota State. Teams had other needs until the Chicago Bears, who had traded up to get the 11th pick owned by the New York Giants, went with Justin Fields of Ohio State.
The ESPN cameras kept zeroing in on Jones, sitting alone in a chair, juggling two cell phones, until he got the call from the Patriots.
Jones became the 11th quarterback drafted by the New England Patriots during Belichick’s tenure since the first quarterback he ever selected, Tom Brady in the sixth round in 2000.
Brady and Belichick went on to win six Super Bowls together and every quarterback the Patriots selected since then have faded into obscurity. Only one, Jarrett Stidham, remains on the roster.
Jones (6 feet 3, 217 pounds) threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions last year for the Tide (13-0) and beat Fields head-to-head in the national championship game.
Jones threw for 464 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-24 victory.
He is the first quarterback selected in the first round by the Patriots since Drew Bledsoe in 1993 and the fourth quarterback in a row who played in the SEC to be drafted by Belichick. He is preceded by Stidham (Auburn), Danny Etling (LSU) and Jacoby Brissett (Florida, before transferring to N.C. State).
The last Alabama player taken in the first round by the Patriots was linebacker Dont'a Hightower in 2012.